This SEAL strategy is a teacher favorite in my SEAL Teacher Training course and is by far one of the most successful SEAL strategies across all grade levels and subject areas.
Let’s take a look at how you can use music to create calm and focus in your classroom!
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I’ve been integrating music into my classroom ever since I was students teaching over 21 years ago and in the last 5 or so years, I’ve been using music to Soundtrack my classroom to help calm and focus my class of students. This SEAL strategy is a teacher favorite in my SEAL Teacher Training course and is by far one of the most successful SEAL strategies across all grade levels and subject areas. Teachers and Students love when their classroom is soundtracked and today, I’m going to teach you how to get started with soundtracking YOUR classroom.
Now there is a wrong way to do this and that is to just start and see if it works. Truth be told, it probably won’t.
Just as with any good classroom management tool, you need to set the foundation of what it is your doing and with this SEAL strategy, just like any other, explicit teaching is the key.
In other words, tell your students what you are doing and explain why!
Now, just in case you don’t know what SEAL is, let me tell you.
SEAL stands for Social-Emotional Artistic Learning. It is a branch of arts integration that has come out of The Inspired Classroom and it provides a framework for teachers to integrate the arts with SEL. You can learn more about that framework in this video here.
Soundtracking comes into play very early on in SEAL because it is just so effective. But remember, you have to introduce it the right way. So, here are the 6 steps to Soundtracking your Classroom.
First, you need to pick a simple assignment to give your class. It could be a wordsearch with vocabulary words, or a quick draw, or a math sheet with review equations on it. It should be something that you know your students will be successful with. But before you begin, you will need to tell them what you are going to do which is play music and why.
The next step after you pick out your easy assignment is to for a minute or so and give them a chance to give you some feedback. You miht ask them: How does the music make them feel? or What makes the music a good choice to use while you’re working.
Now this 3rd step is optional and let me tell you why. It has to do with visualization and you will need to figure out if this will be appropriate for your class. It really depends on their age and if they will feel at ease doing this. In this step, you will ask students to close their eyes and visualize themselves doing the work while the music is playing.
This visualization can work really well, if you think you have a class that will be receptive to this. It can also backfire if your students aren’t ready for this. You know your students best, so you will need to decide if taking the time to visualize will actually help your students move forward with the Soundtracking experience.
Let me know in the comments if you think you’ll do this 3rd step of visualizing with your students and why.
Next, for step four, you are going to play the music and then allow students to get started on their work. The purpose of this time is for your students to experience working with the music playing in the background. It’s important that they find success with this so only have them work for anywhere from 5-10 minutes tops.
Once the time is up, it’s time for step 5: reflection.
Reflection is so important when you are working with SEAL or any SEL method or program. So, make sure you take even just a couple of minutes to reflect on the experience and get your students’ feedback.
The final step is to practice. You will need to practice having students work with their normal work load while the music is playing. Some classes will love it others might not at first. You may need to play around with what music will work better for which class, adjust volumes and of course, just as with any other classroom management strategy, you may need to pause every once in a while to remind students about why you are using this SEAL strategy and how you see it being successful for them.
Now, I bet I can guess what a couple of your follow up questions might be, so let me address two more things.
For one, you may be concerned with how much time it will take to introduce Soundtracking to your classroom in this manner and I understand that. Believe me. We teachers have so much to do in so little time.
However, if this is something you really want to try, then it’s so worth it. These initial steps will probably take you about 20-30 minutes, but the reward you get from doing a thorough introduction to Soundtracking is immense. Your class will calm right down in their spots and the music will melt into the background blanketing a layer of calm in your classroom.
The other question I get all the time is what music to use.
I always suggest using yoga-type, alpha wave music as a starting point. It is calming and has no rhythm or melody that will distract your students as they work. There are many places you can find tracks like this: on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, you can ask Alexa to play yoga or calming music. So, have some fun finding music that you really want to use in your classroom.
There is really so much more I can share with you about Soundtracking your classroom. This is just the beginning! If you want to learn more, visit teachSEAL.com and search Soundtracking and if you want to learn it ALL, consider joining me for SEAL Teacher Training where you will learn not just the ins and outs of this SEAL strategy but so much more about Social-Emotional Artistic Learning and all the SEAL integrations that will benefit you and your students. Those links can be found under this video.
If you liked what you learned today, please let me know by liking this video, subscribe and share it with your fellow teacher friends. And make sure you comment below and let me know what if you plan to soundtrack your classroom.
I’m Elizabeth Peterson. Thank you so much for watching. And remember to keep inspiring yourself so that you can be inspiring to your students.
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